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Eaton to develop affordable home refueling station for natural gas vehicles; liquid piston technology

Eaton Corporation will develop an affordable home refueling station for natural gas vehicles, utilizing existing natural gas sources in the home and innovative compressor technology. The effort is funded in part by a $3.4-million grant from the Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E) MOVE project. (Earlier post.)

The refueling system will use liquid to act as a piston to compress natural gas. (E.g., earlier post.) Innovative heat exchanger technology will improve efficiency and cut cost dramatically. Eaton will collaborate with the University of Minnesota on thermodynamic analysis and modeling to enable the efficient transfer of heat in the compression process.

The goal is to develop a production prototype for refueling stations that will retail for about one-tenth of the cost of currently available systems.

The development project will be led by Eaton’s Innovation Center teams in Southfield, Mich., and Milwaukee and the Advanced Hydraulics group in Eden Prairie, Minn. Teams will draw on Eaton’s expertise in hydraulic component and systems design and experience gained through development and installation of thousands of electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in public and residential spaces across the country.

Current natural gas refueling systems cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Eaton expects that its prototype will be available before the end of 2015 with a target production price of $500.

In the hydraulics industry, Eaton is a leader in the design, manufacture and marketing of a comprehensive line of reliable, high-efficiency hydraulic systems and components for use in mobile and stationary applications, including markets such as agriculture, alternative energy, construction, mining, oil and gas, transportation and more.



"..Current natural gas refueling systems cost between $5,000 and $10,000. Eaton expects that its prototype will be available before the end of 2015 with a target production price of $500.."

Please inform all employers that employees have a target salary price of, say 10 to twenty times present compensation.

Shoulda thought of this target decades ago.


Faster please !


No kidding.  Whatever demand increase this promotes, it's not going to save the shale-gas bubble from collapsing.  Current wells need prices upwards of $7/mmBTU to be profitable on gas sales, and they're currently under $3.  This can't continue, and it won't.


$500 right.. plain old 7kW EVSE retail for $1000 plus installation and they plan to sell a NG compressor for $500, I really doubt it.


The CNG system probably runs on 110 V 15 A, and the gas supply plumbing isn't included.

Roger Pham

Good news. Low-cost NG refill station cheap enough for home use can also be placed at every gas station for public use also, with very little investment from the gas station owners. Pretty soon, there will be no need for home fill up with CNG anymore, because you can get CNG at every "gas" station. It's about time that "gas" station lives up to its name. May be just in time for the CNG version of the Toyota ft-bh hybrid to come out in about 5 years or let's hope sooner.


Why heavy duty and long houl trucks kind of slow converting from diesel to CNG? Do transport companies hope diesel price will go down or DME with metanol option will prevail?


Once the gas bubble collapses it does not mean they blow up the wells.. they just cap them until the prices increase... or until the company goes bankrupt and the new owners have lower expenses.


Darius, CNG tanks are too large and heavy for OTR freight vehicles; they eat too much payload and have too short a range.  OTR trucks need LNG.

LNG is coming.  Multiple truck-stop chains are starting to put in LNG production and dispensing systems.


The Freightliner Cascadia line has a 500 mile version using CNG and a 1000 mile version using both CNG and LNG tanks at the same time.

The CNG tank version is equivalent to 75 gallons of diesel, the LNG tank is equivalent to 86 gallons of diesel.



"The Cascadia 113 Natural Gas will feature a variety of vendor-installed CNG and LNG tank configurations, with up to 155 diesel gallon equivalent (DGE) CNG capacity available and up to 300 gallon (168 DGE) LNG capacity available."

Bob Wallace

E-P "Current wells need prices upwards of $7/mmBTU to be profitable on gas sales, and they're currently under $3."

Can you give me a link to a really trustworthy site that makes this statement and backs it with facts? I need it for another site on which some are arguing that low price NG goes on forever.

(I agree with your statement, just haven't found rock-solid facts to back it up.)


My information is from analysts on a private mailing list, Bob.  Otherwise I'd love to connect everyone to this info.

I note that associated gas from e.g. shale-oil drilling operations can be far cheaper, as it's a byproduct and can be sold at whatever price the market will bear (or flared, if permitted).

Bob Wallace

Is there enough oil byproduct to surpress market price over an appreciable amount of time or are we burning through a temporary surplus?

The futures market seems to think that prices are going up over the next few years.

I would imagine that once our consumption (and export) grows large enough, if possible, to use up the byproduct supply then overall prices will rise to meet the cost of drilling new wells. Something like your $7/mmBTU+.


That's pretty much what Art Berman is projecting, but there's a twist:  all the shale-gas wells from the boom are still producing flat-out, because they can't be shut in for contractual reasons (lease terms) and because their "reserves" are part of the company valuation.  Lose the lease or downgrade the reserves, and the company collapses.  A lot of them will collapse (Chesapeake looks to be the next Enron), and when their production leaves the market we'll see prices change upward.

william g irwin

I applaud this if it actually gets delivered to market. The compressor has always been the main achilles heel from my perspective. I remember a decade or so ago that Ontario showed duel fuel car conversions that allowed the switch back to gasoline with a console switch when the CNG ran dry. This would be roughly the equivalent of a PHV! Simpler too me thinks. That garage compressor and its power draw and maintenance was the scary part.
Otherwise this stays in the fleet world.

Roger Pham

Very simple: The guv can mandate that every "gas" station will have at least one CNG dispenser that is also H2-compatible. Synthetic methane that is carbon-neutral and/or H2 will be used instead of NG in the future, and the infrastructure is already in place. No need for home CNG compressor. The consumer will then be able to buy CNGV with confidence.


Roger, if we are mandating things.. I also want a fast 30 minute charger in every gas station, tax the H2 users to pay for it, those rich people can afford it.

Roger Pham

I fully agree. Of course, Mom-and-Pop gas station with only 1-2 pumps would be exempted. What I have in mind is larger stations like Quick-trip or Road Runner or 7-11 etc. that have many pumps, such that adding a single CNG filler and a 30-min quick-charging socket would hardly be a burden.

Believe me, once these CNG dispensers and quick-charging sockets start to appear around the corners, we will start to see alternative-fueled vehicles appearing everywhere. And that will benefit everyone no matter what they drive, even if they don't drive.


Engine performance falls 25% and fuel economy more than 10% with natural gas. Why would anyone use natural gas as fuel?



I recently traded my Infiniti G35 Coupe (nice car!) for a new cng Honda Civic.
Given my 183 mile roundtrip commute, the $22./day savings in fuel makes the car payment!

40mpg fwy/35mpg city
$1.89/gallon today at my fueling station

ronwagn Natural gas is the future of energy. It is replacing dirty, dangerous, expensive coal and nuclear plants. It is producing the electricity for electric cars. It will directly fuel cars,pickup trucks, vans, buses, long haul trucks, dump trucks, locomotives, aircraft, ships etc. It will keep us out of more useless wars, where we shed our blood and money. Over 1,800 natural gas story links on my blog. An annotated bibliography. The big picture of natural gas.

Court Newkirk

There is so much miss-information in these comments I don't know where to begin. OTR CNG fuel tanks are not heavy, our stack of 4 to 5, 15 to 20 gge type 4 tanks when full of CNG weighs just over 100 pounds more than the same volume of diesel. We now have spoke & hub and OTR tractors on CNG with over 1,100 miles of range per fill-up.
I doubt that the hydraulic compression of NG at home will ever exceed 2 gge. The physics are quite simple. Home NG lines usually run form 4 to 6 oz. I have seen some in the 8 oz range on occasion. It takes 126.650 cubic feet of NG to make one GGE. At 4 oz, how many cubic feet of gas will be available for this new compressor? Not enough to make home fueling quicker unless the utility is willing to really turn up the scfm (standard cubic feet per minute). $7 per dekatherm gas will not dramatically affect the demand for CNG since the commodity only makes up 33% of the total cost of CNG at the pump. At $8 per dekatherm your commodity would only be $1 per gge. Oil refined will never be able to compete on price again. Let's save the comments on H2 for another day and another post. We have built over 500 CNG stations in 20 different countries over the last 23 years. We will be more than happy to answer your questions technical or otherwise. BEF

Court Newkirk

The comment about CNG loosing 25% of the MPG and 10% of the HP was true in 1983. Since the introduction and refinement of computer controlled fuel injection, it is now a level playing field if the computer program is accurately done. Energy is energy, BTU's are BTU's, your vehicle does not know nor care if it's getting a atomized liquid fuel or a gaseous fuel. It's only looking for energy. If it is introduced at the proper fuel air mixture with the correct ignition timing, there should be no change in performance. I will agree that not all installations of CNG fuel systems are equal.

Calvin Brock

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